Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dragons, Mages, and Princesses, Oh My!

"The Dragon of Trelian, by Michelle Knudsen, will thrill even the most reluctant reader as it involves Calen, who is about to learn of his tremendous gifts in magic, and princess, Meglynne, who is hiding a dragon in a cave. The combination of both protagonists and all they must do to survive and bring their kingdom together will keep you engaged to the very last page." Reviewer Holly Newton for Meridian Magazine.

That little blurb was enough to peak my curiosity and convince me that this book would be a good Sunday afternoon read. The book did not disappoint!

In The Dragon of Trelian by Michelle Knudsen we meet Meg, the third princess in the royal family of Trelian. She's the one with attitude. The one who balks at conforming. While off on adventure one afternoon Meg finds an abandoned baby dragon and somehow the two become linked. Dragons are considered dangerous and Meg keeps her dragon a secret until she meets Calen, the new mage's apprentice. When they discover that traitors are plotting to kill Meg's big sister to start a war, both Meg and Calen are off on an adventure that neither will forget. Along the way they form a friendship that will never fade.

A well written fantasy, Knudsen captures the less glamorous side of royalty and magic, the tediousness of lessons, the pressure to always do and say the right thing, and the fear of losing yourself.

It was only after I finished reading the book that I discovered that the author, Michelle Knudsen, is also the author of one of my favorite read-alouds, The Library Lion. I have used this book for a few years in both first grade and now in third grade. It has lessons to teach and inspire. It is one of my favorites! Wow, two great reads by this author!

As the reviewer promised, I was engaged til the very end!

Wow, I am on a roll - two great books this week!! Next up, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. Please, oh please let's make this a three-fer!

On a yippee note - Son #2 is on his way home from Officer Candidate School tomorrow. Sorry US Army - your loss is our gain!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hush, Hush

I enjoyed finishing this on a blustery, rainy, stormy day;
when the weather equaled the climax of the story.

I didn't know anything at all about the book when I started
- that was a perk.
I can't remember who recommended this or where I heard about it but, I seriously
loved this cover!! Since I wasn't sure what the book was about when it came in I just plucked it up for the cover art alone and was willing to take the chance!
(Seriously, how will the whole e-reader thing affect book covers?!?!)

Genre - Young Adult Fantasy
Book Jacket - "A sacred oath, a fallen angel..."

Kudos to the author for reeling me in and keeping me reading even when I wasn't sure I liked the character development or not. I'm glad I stuck it out. Still it felt a little rough around the edges and there were parts I didn't like ( seriously I wanted to 'Gibbs' slap' the protagonist more than once and say GROW A BRAIN!) but then the author would step the pacing up and I'd enjoy myself again. So... the book delivered the punch I wanted on this first day of a three day weekend.
It was a fun read to accompany the staccato rain patters outside.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Aunt Dimity's Death

Lori Shepherd is shocked when she discovers her "Aunt" Dimity has died. Lori is shocked because she thought Aunt Dimity was a character her mother made up for her bedtime stories. When Lori visits the law firm handling Dimity's estate, she discovers that Dimity wants her to travel to England and stay at her cottage while writing a forward to Dimity's collection of stories. Lori can use a change; she is still reeling from the end of her marriage and her mother's unexpected death. Little does she realize this trip will change her life in many ways.

Aunt Dimity's Death is a multi-layered little book. This is the first book in an ongoing series. It's billed as a mystery, but it's more of a love story: not only a new romance for Lori; but romance during World War II (some of which end happily and many that don't); the love between a mother and child; and love between people who never met yet know of each other. It also has a touch of the supernatural, as Aunt Dimity's spirit is very much alive and, in a gimmicky device, is able to "talk" to Lori by writing in a journal. Finally, it's a novel about discovery, as Lori learns many things, not only about herself but also about her mother.

This was a book for our "March Mystery Madness" in Book Group. It was not quite what I expected as a mystery but it was a cozy gentle read that filled a relaxing afternoon!! You could share this with ANYONE or listen to it on audio with anyone in the car. I will make sure that I try another in the series to catch the author's progression and I look forward to meeting the author later this month!

Now I still have time to read Wilkie Collins' Woman in White to add to my "Mystery Madness" event!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hard Work Pays Off!

This was the closest thing to a smile that we saw for the first few days as our Airman transitioned from trainee to Airman.
He is pointing out his bar awarded to him for being an Honor Graduate.
"Hard Work Pays Off!"

I think we all need medals and coins like this!!
Some days I need a reminder that I can be "the Best of the Best!"
"Hard Work Pays Off!"

After leading a Book Group for 3rd graders for the last few months my
"Hard Work Pays Off!"
Seven of my students came to me this week and
asked me to be in their Book Group!! They will meet each week in the library to meet and discuss Fablehaven!! Wahoo!! I am so proud and excited to see where this will go.

My students felt that they needed more practice in math.
They want their "Hard Work to Pay Off!"
They had me circle problems to focus on and then asked me to take a photo of the board to remember it for next week.
I love it when they start to direct their own learning!
(Plus they must understand that my old brain might need a little help!!)

I closeted myself in my room this week and finished this cozy-mystery!!
"Hard Work Pays Off!"
I am now ready for this month's Book Group AND next month's!!
I enjoyed being introduced to this author.
It was a pleasant way to spend a few hours.
I look forward to meeting this author in a few weeks when she visits The Poisoned Pen.

My team won tonight.... :)
I loved watching one player make SIX 3-point plays.
It was his personal record!!
"Hard Work Pays Off!"

It's back to work tomorrow - - I sure hope this theme continues!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Notice Anything???

Our morning started off with a bit of excitement when we went to print off our boarding passes! Down in the hotel lobby we kept getting an error message stating that we were not within the 24 hours of departure.
Surely they were wrong!

Let me tell you it took us both about 10 minutes before my dear husband noticed my BIG mistake.
Can you find it?
Oh my goodness.
I can tell you that my first thought was, "I don't have sub plans prepared for that long!" (Never mind hotel or car...)

That little "Oops" cost me a pretty penny.
I guess I'll have to limit my book buying for a while!

(This just made me so happy to see....)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Seeing San Antonio - Restaurant Style

Introducing our Airman to life away from the Air Force base in San Antonio has been fun this weekend. Filling him up has also been interesting. This is the son who had to gain weight to be accepted in the Air Force!! He's faster, stronger, and hungrier now! It has been a fun weekend battling Mother-Nature and discovering some delicacies!

Mi Tierra Restaurant started us off with these bakery goodies right as we entered. This Mexican (Tex-Mex style) is open 24 hours a day. My new favorite!!

Well, just until the next meal....

We had an Airman to fill up!!

It wouldn't be a family vacation without ice cream!!

We walked to the Alamo and even met CC theAlamo cat.

(She's the unofficial guardian there at the Alamo these days.)

We walked the Riverwalk for blocks and even took the River Barge tour.
We visited the Riverwalk Center and found some video arcade games to hone the sharp shooting skill of our Airman. Ya know ya gotta keep those skills sharp!

Airman son is a reader and has really missed having time to read. He has a 13 hour bus ride to his AIT training base at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi this Monday.

(A new home for the next 4 months! It would be fun to try to visit here next!!!)

This long bus ride necessitated a trip to find the perfect book to get lost in on a trip of that length. Ahhh, darn! C'mon, how hard can that be?? It broke my heart to have to check out the bookstores of San Antonio. Airman chose James Rollins to entertain himself...

I had to help myself to something as well - -I had finished both my books and you know I couldn't risk a minute without a possible book.... I chose an upcoming book group book to get started on a little ahead of schedule. It hurt me to buy something when I have shelves waiting for me at home! (That was a foreign feeling!!!)

It's been wonderful being here with our Airman this weekend. Even better was being here with his wife. She has been so generous in allowing us time to share with them when I'm sure she just wanted him all to herself! We've tried to allow for both and Rich and I have had some fun exploring on our own too. I've loved being with them and being a part of their celebration and new beginning. It's been memory packed and we have felt privileged to be a part of it all!

You know eating our way through San Antonio hasn't been such a bad thing either....come Monday it will be back to yogurt and cottage cheese.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow Day! Or what to do in a hotel room!

See this handsome Airman?? That's Honor Graduate #3 Son!! He rocks!

We are here in San Antonio, Texas for his graduation from Basic Training and like 1000's of other parents and family members we have braved the monster storm, Texas-style.
Yesterday we made it to their coin ceremony and braved it outside in windy 20 degree weather. (It was in the single digits when you factored in wind chill! - I left Arizona chill for this?!?!?) We wore 4-6 layers of clothes (why bring a suitcase? Just wear all of your clothes at the same time! No suitcase necessary!)

Today we were ready for the Parade, Graduation and Open House.....NOT!
Snow Day! Ice Day!! All-roads-closed-day!

Our Marriott hotel is near a freeway and they are all closed...iced over. Now that's a weird sight. Not a soul on a road. Okay, there is one car that is stuck.

So, what's a girl to do?!?!

Well, Rich brought the portable DVD player so he's watching Red (a movie about retired covert operation spies) and of course I brought my insurance policy - more than one book!

I finished Original Sin by Beth McMullen (ARC, publishing date - July 2011.)

Lucy Hamilton appears to be another young stay at home mom with a 3 year old son that she adores, a busy, environmentally-minded husband, carpools to drive, and toys to clean up! Yet surface appearances are not always what they appear. You see Lucy was really Sally Sin, a covert operations spy for USAWMD (United States Agency for Weapons of Mass Destruction.) Now, years later her past is coming back to haunt her. Lucy/Sally's arch nemesis has returned (from the dead!) and the agency is determined to get her help. We really should read the fine print...somewhere in parting contracts were the words that basically meant 'til death us do part!!' Now Lucy/Sally has to once again face life as a spy!! The real trick - balancing motherhood and spy-hood.

This book is being touted as a humorous comparison to Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. Now, having not read a one of those I cannot really compare the two, but I have read book jackets and the occasional quotes. Lucy just doesn't seem to have the same flash, dash or panache. I never really felt her passion and the characters seem to need more fleshing out. I also wanted a bit more witty repartee! (Shannon Hale, you have spoiled me!) I really enjoy the show Covert Affairs and felt that the characters and their conflicts on that show are much tighter and enjoyable than that of McMullen's. Still, it was a fun ride and an entertaining read for this winter vacation.

An interesting note - it has been fun to read a book on covert operations as we sit nestled in near the USAF training base. These men and women who defend our country take every bit of security very seriously. Boy, reading and enjoying this book has been all about the timing.

Well the snow and ice are melting...our Airman has just called in to tell us that the Open House is back on and I think we need to leave our snug hotel room to venture out. I have my spy-gear ready....I can take on anything - well as long as it isn't weather-related! (I am such a wimp!)